Hoverboarder Will Give English Channel Another Go

Last week I shared the story of Franky Zapata, the French inventor who had hoped to ride his hoverboard across the English Channel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first flight between France and the U.K. As it turns out, that flight didn’t go exactly as planned and Franky found himself in the water when he attempted to land on refueling platform halfway to the finish line. But undaunted by his failure, Zapata now plans to give it another go this coming weekend.

As originally planned, the hoverboard flight will begin in Sangatte in France and will end at St Margaret’s Bay on the south coast of England. The journey should only take about 20 minutes to complete, but because the Flyboard Air –– Zapata’s hoverboard model –– can only stay aloft for about 10 minutes at a time, he’ll have to stop to refuel part way through the English Channel crossing. That’s where he ran into difficulty the first time, as strong waves caused the refueling platform to undulate wildly during the attempt last week, making it very difficult to stick the landing. As a result, he caught the edge of the landing zone and tumbled into the water.

To avoid a repeat of that accident Zapata’s support team says they are using a larger boat to provide more room to land during this second attempt. That boat will also be stained in French waters, which also wasn’t allowed the first time. Concerns over heavy shipping traffic remain, but since the 35 km (21 mile) flight will take place on Sunday, there should be fewer vessels to avoid than during the week.

If successful, Zapata will not only become the first to fly across the English Channel on a hoverboard, he’ll set a new record for the longest flight as well. He currently holds that record, having flown 2252 meter (7388 feet) back in 2016 when the Flyboard was unveiled. Presumably, he flew further than that on his first attempt last week, but perhaps because he didn’t successfully land that record doesn’t count. Either way, he should have a better shot at completing the crossing when he gives it another go this weekend.

Kraig Becker